Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo nearly came to blows with acting town clerk Sikhangele Zhou on Monday over a matter to do with community cleaning.
The acrimony between the mayor’s office and that of the town clerk took a near-violent twist with the mayor and acting town clerk reportedly exchanging harsh words, in an apparent power struggle.
There were fireworks at an emergency full council meeting when the mayor accused Zhou of calling a crucial meeting without his consent.
The meeting was to address the issue of community cleaners in all the city’s suburbs who were abruptly stopped from working last week.
The latest row is part of a power tussle at City Hall after another spat between town clerk Middleton Nyoni and deputy mayor Amen Mpofu over the use of vehicles.
Nyoni yesterday said he was not at the Monday meeting as he was out of town, but he remained accused of scheduling the critical meeting without the knowledge of Moyo.
Zhou declined to comment on the incident saying: “It was a confidential meeting so I have no comment.”
Moyo, on the other hand, laughed off the matter when NewsDay sought his comment.
“Aren’t we supposed to have internal discussions that should not be discussed in the media? Well, all I can say is that it happens that people do not agree at times, but that is normal,” he said.
Council sources said although Nyoni did not attend Monday’s meeting, he was the one who called for it, reportedly without the consent of Moyo, who chairs full council meetings in his capacity as mayor.
A furious Moyo, council sources said, moved a motion to cancel the special full council meeting because normal procedure had been breached.
Instead of calling for a special full council meeting, the case of community cleaners’ contracts was supposed to be handled by the finance committee first as per council procedure.
“The mayor was annoyed by Nyoni’s failure to follow procedure and also not notifying him on the need to call for the emergency meeting,” said an impeccable source.
“The community cleaners’ contracts expired at the end of June, but nothing was communicated to them so they continued working. They were only told to stop work last week.
“Zhou defended Nyoni’s calling for the meeting as she believed the stopping of community cleaners from their work posed a serious health hazard to the city,” said the council insider.
The clash between Moyo and Zhou cascaded down to councillors as the city fathers rallied behind their boss.
“However, Zhou countered saying the matter was urgent as it posed a serious health hazard to the city. It is at that point that the two exchanged harsh words and the situation almost got out of hand.”